Thirteenth round summary - no surprise at the top of the standings

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin. 

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin. 

For the first time in many rounds, there was no change in the leadership of the 2016 Candidates tournament. The results of Round 13, the penultimate round of the competition, left Sergey Karjakin of Russia and Fabiano Caruana of the United States as the co-leaders, and as the only ones who can win the tournament and become the challenger for the World Championship. The scenarios of how either player can win are explained in another article on this site. 

Nakamura v Topalov

With the end of the tournament approaching, and the stakes rising for some players, there was no shortage of drama in Round 13, even though there was only one decisive result. Somewhat ironically, it was in the one game that could have no bearing on who will be the winner of the tournament — America’s Hikaru Nakamura won with surprising ease against an out-of-sorts Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. In his game with Nakamura, Topalov, who had White, made a strange choice in a well-known opening that quickly led him into a worse endgame. Winning the endgame was never going to be easy. 

Aronian v Karjakin

Karjakin obtained a typical Reversed Sicilian position against Aronian’s English Opening. But Aronian outplayed him in the middlegame maneuvering, culminating with a wonderful tactical idea. The crucial situation was at Move 30, when Aronian could have got an even better position if he had calculated the lines a little more precisely. Aronian won a piece, but couldn’t get rid of Black’s passed a-pawn, which gave Karjakin just about enough compensation to hold the game.

Svidler v Caruana

Amazingly, the Aronian-Karjakin game was not the longest one of the round — that distinction went to Caruana and Svidler, who traded many errors. Svidler’s favorite Spanish setup was once again under some pressure, and playing Nb8 in the next position looked particularly unappealing. But Caruana didn’t play decisively enough, and let Svidler regroup perfectly. Black’s position was much nicer after the regrouping, and Caruana’s attempts to create a mess by the h4-h5 pawn sacrifice did not seem to have teeth. Until Svidler blundered with. Luckily for Svidler, he noticed just in time that Rxe4 would lose material. But Black has clear weaknesses in the endgame, and Caruana found a great sequence of moves to target the Black queenside. Svidler held on somehow, and there was never an obvious win for White. Perhaps Caruana missed something, but as Svidler said afterward, “But once again, we should not dig too deep into this endgame, because everybody is a bit tired.” Nevertheless, in the post-game conference, the players analyzed an amusing endgame sequence if Svidler had played a different 63rd move. Admittedly a beautiful line, but the computer points out that 66…Bb4! forces a drawn king and pawn endgame. In the end, the players got the classic rook plus bishop vs rook endgame. This is a well known theoretical draw, but it still needs a fair bit of accuracy to defend when the king is pushed to the corner. Even though all four rows of squares at the edge of the board are symmetrical, Svidler said that it was particularly hard - from a psychological point of view - to defend on the a-file as it is somewhat unnatural to move the rook and king around there (as opposed to the eighth rank)! To add to the drama, after holding on for a long time, Svidler, went wrong just before the 50th move to let Caruana get the famous Philidor winning position. Caruana said that he had seen the winning idea many times, but the question was, could he win before reaching the 50th move? So Caruana could have forced Black to give his rook two moves before the 50th move, after which he would have won the game. Oh so close.

Anand v Giri

The other game was between Anand and Giri. Anand had been doing very well on the White side of various 1.e4 e5 openings, but in Round 13, he lost his concentration in the opening. In his words, “by move 14 I was trying to equalize.” Soon after, instead of keeping hanging on to his comfortable position, Giri initiated completely crazy complications with an interesting piece sacrifice. Both players thought that Black had enough compensation, but they missed a few defensive ideas in mutual time trouble. Giri seemed to have better chances in the rook and pawns vs. two-piece position, but White was probably holding on. The game took a dramatic twist when Giri played the really passive 45…Rf8, missing an incredible mating net. There was an intense discussion afterward to see if White could still win at the very end in the bizarre, study-like position. The players couldn’t believe that it could be winning, but they struggled to find a defensive solution until the very end. If White had continued, it would have seriously scared Giri.

So, now it is down to Karjakin and Caruana. Round 14 should be very exciting.

 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com

Twelfth round summary - Caruana and Karjakin are the clear leaders

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Karjakin v Topalov

The first two games to finish in Round 12 changed the leaderboard, as has happened in each of the last four rounds. One day after losing to Viswanathan Anand of India, Sergey Karjakin of Russia bounced back by beating Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Karjakin, who was White, capitalized on risky and ultimately poor play by Topalov to win his third game of the tournament. 

 

Anand v Nakamura

Anand, who was tied for the lead heading into the round, had Black against Hikaru Nakamura of the United States. Unfortunately for Anand, he ran into a great piece of home preparation by Nakamura, who baited him into a risky advance on the kingside. After only 15 moves, Anand’s position was already lost. He resigned by Move 26. It was Anand’s third loss of the tournament and Nakamura’s second victory.

 

Caruana v Aronian

The game between Fabiano Caruana of the United States and Levon Aronian of Armenia was also important for the standings. Caruana began the round tied for the lead, while Aronian was a full point behind.  Caruana, who was White, used an anti-Marshall plan in the Ruy Lopez. Following an unusual sequence of exchanges, Caruana gained a pawn majority in the center, but Aronian had a pawn on c3. With some difficulty, Aronian was able to protect that pawn. After exchanges left each side with a queen, rook and pawns, it seemed that only Caruana had any chances to win. But Aronian organized a pawn breakthrough on the kingside that gave him a pawn on h2. After a forced exchange of queens, it seemed that Caruana was in trouble, but his pawns saved him as Aronian could never attack them without losing his h pawn or allowing Caruana’s center pawn to advance, so the players agreed to a draw. 

 

Svidler v Giri

A long game between Peter Svidler and Anish Giri of the Netherlands never strayed far from equality and was drawn after 85 moves. Both Svidler and Giri remain at 50 percent, which almost mathematically eliminates from winning. It was also Giri’s 12th draw. 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com

Eleventh round summary - Caruana still leads, Anand is the runner-up

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Svidler v Aronian

The game between Levon Aronian of Armenia, who had been one of the co-leaders for several rounds, and Peter Svidler of Russia, who was on -1, was an odd one. Svidler, who was Black, executed his strategy to play solidly and trade off some pieces, but somehow Aronian still got a dangerous attack against Svidler’s castled king. Svidler tip-toed around some mine fields and seemed to solve his problems, but then he sacrificed a pawn for little compensation. Just as he seemed to have taken control, Aronian started to play badly — simply retreating and allowing Svidler to infiltrate White’s position with his queen. Aronian then erred, allowing Svidler’s rook to join the attack. Faced with having to lose his queen, Aronian resigned.

Aronian is now a full point behind Fabiano Caruana of the United States with only three rounds to go. His chances of winning the Candidates may have been dealt a death blow. Meanwhile, Svidler finally recorded his first victory after having spoiled good positions several times earlier in the tournament. 

 

Anand v Karjakin

A long game between Viswanathan Anand of India and Sergey Karjakin of Russia had a big impact on the standings. Karjakin was one of the co-leaders and Anand trailed by half a point. 

The game between Caruana and the tailender, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, was complicated throughout as the players went into one of the tactical variations arising out of the Symmetrical English. Topalov sacrificed an exchange to gain lasting pressure, but he gradually lost control of the position and it seemed that Caruana would unwind and be able to use his material advantage. But Caruana got into time pressure as the first time-control approached and misplayed the position. It seemed that Topalov might even be better at the end, but Caruana offered a draw and Topalov accepted.

 

Nakamura v Giri

Anish Giri of the Netherlands achieved another completely winning position, this time against Hikaru Nakamura of the United States. The opening was the quiet Italian game and Giri gradually outplayed Nakamura to achieve a complete bind in the center and on the kingside. Giri, who has been frustrated by his inability to win games in which he has a huge advantage, decided to be more aggressive and “went for the kill” as he said afterward in the press conference. But he had miscalculated and Nakamura has enough resources to beat off the attack. So Giri drew again, while Nakamura remains on -2. 

 

 

Caruana v Topalov

The game between Caruana and the tailender, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, was complicated throughout as the players went into one of the tactical variations arising out of the Symmetrical English. Topalov sacrificed an exchange to gain lasting pressure, but he gradually lost control of the position and it seemed that Caruana would unwind and be able to use his material advantage. But Caruana got into time pressure as the first time-control approached and misplayed the position. It seemed that Topalov might even be better at the end, but Caruana offered a draw and Topalov accepted.

 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com

Tenth round summary - Caruana leads

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin. 

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin. 

Svidler v Nakamura

An English Opening between Peter Svidler of Russia and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States became a strategic battle, with Svidler trying to expand on the queenside, while Nakamura aimed for the kingside. Svidler achieved his aim, but so did Nakamura, as he sacrificed a piece to lift a rook over to the kingside, which he also sacrificed to force a perpetual check. The draw left Svidler on -1 and Nakamura on -2, in what has been a disappointing tournament for both players. 

 

Anand v Caruana

The game between Fabiano Caruana of the United States and Viswanathan Anand of India had potential to shake up the standings and it did as Caruana won to switch places with Anand. The opening was an English, Four Knights Variation and Caruana employed a well-known pawn sacrifice to take control of the center. For a while, it seemed that Anand would be fine, but then Caruana ripped open his kingside with a piece sacrifice. Anand immediately returned the piece to end the attack, but the damage to his structure was irreversible. He eventually was forced to give up an exchange, but Caruana’s initiative persisted, despite the reduced material. Anand resigned in only 33 moves. Anand now trails Caruana and Sergey Karjakin of Russia by half a point. 

  

 

Karjakin v Giri

The game between Karjakin and Anish Giri started as a Meran Variation in the Semi-Slav Defense. The Meran can be very double-edged, but it has also been extensively analyzed, so the chances that either player would be tricked or surprised were fairly minimal. Indeed, both sidestepped any complications and began trading pieces. After only 31 moves, they agreed to a draw, having barely used any time on their clocks. The draw kept Karjakin at +2 and temporarily put him into the lead by himself awaiting the results of the other games. For Giri, it was his tenth draw out of 10 games, in what has become a disappointing performance.  

 

 

Aronian v Topalov

The game between Levon Aronian of Armenia and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria was an English Opening (the theme of the round). The game became a strategic battle, with Aronian expanding on the queenside and Topalov angling toward the kingside. Neither player ever really developed an initiative, however, and after a series of exchanges, they ended up in an endgame in which Aronian was a bit worse, but Topalov had no real prospects to break through. After the pawns became locked and the players exchanged queens, they agreed to a draw. Aronian remains on +1, a half point behind the leaders, while Topalov is at -3 and in the cellar. 

 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com.

Round ninth summary - Aronian loses for the first time

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Svidler v Topalov

The game between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Peter Svidler of Russia was entertaining because both players are uncompromising. It started out as a Ruy Lopez, with Topalov employing an anti-Marshall system. The tension built until Topalov broke in the center, but Svidler struck right back. Wild complications ensued, with both players being aggressive. In the end, neither could gain an edge and the game was drawn. 

 

Aronian v Anand

The game between Viswanathan Anand of India and Levon Aronian of Armenia was very important for the overall standings. Anand, who was White, employed the quiet Italian game. He got a slight edge in the opening and then, in his trademark style, he gradually began to improve his pieces while constricting Aronian’s space. Though Aronian wriggled and was able to exchange pieces to alleviate his cramped position, he never was able to fully recover as Anand had locked down the light squares on the queenside. Anand finally engineered a breakthrough on the opposite wing. He was able to create a passed pawn and, in the end, Aronian had to give up his one remaining rook to stop it from promoting, after which he resigned. With the victory, Anand is now tied with Sergey Karjakin for the lead, while Anand has dropped a half point behind the leaders. 

 

Giri v Caruana

The longest game of the day was also the longest of the tournament, but it would not have been if Anish Giri had found one of several ways early on to win his game against Fabiano Caruana of the United States. In a sharp and heavily analyzed opening, Caruana misplayed it badly and was busted out of the opening. Giri had one or two paths to victory, but he seemed to be scared by ghosts and kept missing his chances. Finally he squandered his last best chance and although he still had an extra pawn, it was increasingly difficult for him to make progress, particularly as Caruana kept finding the best moves. After seven hours, and nearly 100 moves, with neither player having much time on their clocks, Giri repeated the position three times and Caruana claimed a draw. So Giri squandered yet another golden opportunity and has now drawn all his games, while Caruana is still at +1 and only a half point behind the leaders. 

 

Karjakin v Nakamura

In the game between Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Karjakin, Karjakin once again employed the Queen’s Indian Defense, showing that it is his primary weapon against 1. d4 for this tournament. Unlike a couple of the previous games in which he played the Queen’s Indian, he had little trouble equalizing against Nakamura. Though the game had its interesting moments, neither player ever had a clear edge and the game was drawn shortly after the first time control was reached. The draw puts Karjakin temporarily into the sole lead.

 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com

Round eighth summary - Anand and Caruana are half-point close to the leaders

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press-Office; Evgeny Pogonin

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press-Office; Evgeny Pogonin

Anand v Topalov

The game between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Viswanathan Anand of India was a standard Queen’s Gambit. Anand traded off his dark-squared bishop to speed his development, but Topalov eventually caught up. He started to try to organize the standard break of f3 end e4 but then inexplicably gave up the idea and allowed his kingside pawns to become doubled. From that point on, only Anand had a chance to win. Though he pressed for a long time, in the end he could find no way to break down Topalov’s defense and they agreed to a draw. Anand remains on +1, a half point behind Aronian, while Topalov is at -3.

Giri v Aronian

Levon Aronian of Armenia, the co-leader, faced Anish Giri of the Netherlands. The opening was a Semi-Slav Defense and Aronian chose the Moscow variation, in which White gives up the bishop pair in return for rapid development. The players soon traded queens and entered an endgame in which White had more space, but Black had the bishop pair. Though White was able to eventually win a pawn, the endgame with opposite-colored bishops was an easy draw and so the players split the point. Aronian stayed at +2 and, for the moment in the lead, while Giri is the only player in the tournament with a perfect record — he has drawn all his games.

Caruana v Nakamura

Fabiano Caruana of the United States beat his compatriot Hikaru Nakamura to record his first victory of the 2016 Candidates. The game started out as anti-Berlin Defense, which can be very quiet. But the players castled on opposite wings and then launched attacks against the kings. Caruana’s attack proved to be more potent and Nakamura also made some missteps in time pressure. For Nakamura, it was his third loss and dropped him into second-to-last. Caruana is now at +1 and only trails the leaders by half a point. 

Svidler v Karjakin

The game between the two Russians, Peter Svidler an Sergey Karjakin, was among the most interesting of the day with both players having the upper hand at different points. Svidler essayed a strange opening and his light-squared bishop ended up entombed. It seemed that Svidler was close to lost, an assessment Svidler had himself after the game. But Karjakin misplayed the position as well, taking a pawn on h3 that allowed Svidler to free his position. Indeed, it was soon clear that Svidler had the upper hand. Svidler proceeded to outplay Karjakin and Karjakin kept retreating until it seemed that Svidler was on the cusp of victory. But as has happened throughout the tournament, at the critical moment, Svidler missed the correct move and that allowed Karjakin to win a pawn and generate enough  counterplay to insure a draw. The draw allowed Karjakin to stay tied for the lead, while Svidler is at -1, which is almost unfortunate as he has played very well throughout the tournament. 

Read more about the games on worldchess.com

 

Seventh round summary - Nakamura wins

Anand v Giri

The game between Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Viswanathan Anand of India started out somewhat promising in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. But a quick series of exchanges reduced it to a symmetrical pawn structure in which neither player had any possibility of an advantage. They agreed to a draw on Move 31. 

 

Karjakin v Aronian

An interesting game between the co-leaders, Sergey Karjakin of Russia and Levon Aronian of Armenia, ended in a draw. Karjakin chose a King’s Indian Attack and Aronian responded with a strange idea 6. … a5 and 7. … a4. Karjakin went for an attack with Ng5 and Qh5, but Aronian repulsed it rather easily and then counterattacked. It seemed for a moment that Karjakin might be in trouble, but Aronian’s counterattack was premature and Karjakin found enough counterplay to hold the balance. The players agreed to a draw after only 31 moves, but it was a sharp battle. 

 

Topalov v Nakamura

The game between Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria turned into a tactical slugfest as Topalov sacrificed a piece to launch a speculative attack against Nakamura’s king. Though the tactics were tricky and Topalov had some chances if Nakamura did not find all the correct moves, but he did and eventually Topalov simply ran out of ammunition and resigned as he was down a piece with no compensation.

 

Svidler v Caruana

The last game of the day to finish between Peter Svidler of Russia and Fabiano Caruana of the United States ended in a draw, which was a disappointment for Svidler and a huge relief for Caruana based on how the game unfolded. Svidler launched a dangerous attack and conducted it superbly. Caruana managed to survive to an endgame, but it should have been easy to convert for a win. But as so often happens in chess, things are never as easy they seem. Caruana kept throwing up obstacles and Svidler lost his way, finally acquiescing to a draw. Caruana has now drawn all his games, while Svidler is on -1. 

 

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Joint statement concerning Hikaru Nakamura’s failure to attend press conference following Round 6

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin

March 19, 2016 — Moscow, Russia — Following Round 6 of the Candidates Tournament, Hikaru Nakamura, one of the eight competitors in the field, failed to appear at the official press conference for the round. By not appearing, he breached two important Candidates Tournament regulations governing player attendance at press conferences.

As a result he will be fined 10% of his eventual tournament winnings.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili, FIDE Supervisor for the Candidates Tournament, said: “Rules are rules. They are clearly communicated to the players and their teams prior to the start of each tournament. Players are not at liberty to pick and choose which rules they want to follow."

Ilya Merenzon, Chief Executive of Agon, the organiser of the Candidates Tournament, said: “I realize that Mr Nakamura was upset by what had happened in his game. Yet it is following these moments of high drama and controversy that chess fans particularly want to hear from the players involved. We had a very large global audience on worldchess.com that was left disappointed by Mr Nakamura’s failure to abide by the Tournament rules.”

Near the end of his Round 6 match, Mr Nakamura touched his king and in accordance with the laws of chess, he was obliged to then move it. He quickly resigned his match against Levon Aronian as a direct result.

The relevant FIDE regulations concerning players’ media obligations are as follows: 

3. 12. 2 All players are required to make themselves available for post-game press conferences, of not more than 20 minutes duration, immediately after the game. All winners and medalists are obliged to attend the final press conference after the event has ended and to provide an exclusive interview for the FIDE website, if requested by the FIDE Press Officer. Players violating these rules will be subjected to the penalties mentioned in the event regulations.

3. 11. 2 If a player fails to appear at the Players' Meeting, the Opening or Closing Ceremony or any approved function of the Championship such as official receptions, press conferences or interviews, or conducts himself in a manner contrary to the spirit of sportsmanship or the FIDE Code of Ethics, then he shall suffer the following penalty: 5% of his prize money shall be forfeited to the Organisers and a further 5% to FIDE for each breach. In cases of serious misconduct the player may be disqualified from the event and the World Chess Championship cycle.

Sixth round summary - Aronian joins Karjakin as the leader

Anand v Svidler

Viswanathan Anand of India won his second game of the 2016 Candidates with a lightening attack against Peter Svidler of Russia. The opening was a Ruy Lopez and Anand used an anti-Marshall system to avoid the Marshall Attack. Anand seemed to be proceeding slowly, when he suddenly broke in the center with d4. He quickly followed that up with the offer of an exchange sacrifice on e4, which Svidler declined. But then Anand launched a lightening quick kingside attack, supported by having the rook on the fourth rank. Svidler was helpless to resist and resigned after only 24 moves. A vintage Anand win. 

 

Karjakin v Caruana

If Sergey Karjakin of Russia wins the Candidates, this will be one game that everyone’s look back on as crucial — not because he won it, but because he did not lose it. Facing Fabiano Caruana of the United States with the Black pieces, Karjakin walked into a well-prepared line by Caruana. In trouble just after the opening, he went into a long think and then decided that his best chance lay in sacrificing his queen, albeit for a rook, a knight and a passed pawn. While the position was far from clear, it seemed that Caruana should be able to find a way to break through. But Karjakin’s defense held and then he found an amazing idea, sacrificing a knight to get his pawn rolling and then catching Caruana’s king in an awkward position in the corner. The upshot was that Caruana had to return the queen to achieve a position that he was actually probably a bit worse in at the end. But the players agreed to a draw. No doubt, Karjakin was thrilled with the result, while for Caruana, it had to be a bid disappointment. 

 

Aronian v Nakamura

The game between Levon Aronian of Armenia and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States began as a theoretical discussion in the Queen’s Indian Defense in which Aronian sacrificed a pawn for an initiative and pressure in the center. Both players followed a known path for a while. Nakamura seemed to navigate the shoals well, but somehow ended up in an endgame in which he was a bit worse. A series of exchanges followed that seemed to put Aronian firmly in the driver’s seat, but he misplayed the rook-and-pawn ending, allowing Nakamura to gain a drawn position. But with both players’ clocks winding down, Nakamura inexplicably grabbed his king when he had to move his rook and wound up in a lost ending once again. This time, Aronian converted to join Karjakin in the lead. 

 

Topalov v Giri

In the game between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, Topalov essayed the aggressive, coffee-house move 3. h4. It had been played before, and even recommended as a surprise weapon by some strong players, but Giri is no ordinary player. He responded by turning the opening into a Benko Gambit, in which the move 3. h4 was not necessarily a good one. The game became one of attrition in which Giri gradually infiltrated Topalov’s position. But each time he seemed he might crack, Topalov found a resource. He finally lost a pawn in the endgame, but there was so little material left on the board, it made no difference and Giri finally allowed Topalov to sacrifice his last piece to eliminate his last pawns, thereby sealing the draw. 

The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com

Fifth round Summary - Karjakin is the sole leader

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office/Evgeny Pogonin.

Caruana v Aronian

Levon Aronian of Armenia drew his game against Fabiano Caruana of the United States in Round 5 by a perpetual attack on Caruana’s queen. Caruana employed the Benoni Defense in the opening, which is not often seen in elite tournaments. Aronian soon obtained a nice position wth more space in the center. But rather than improve his position slowly, he sacrificed a pawn in the center to start an attack. He soon gave up two other pawns to switch his bishop to the kingside to attack Caruana. Caruana evidently calculated that he could not allow Aronian to play Nf6, so he attacked Aronian’s undefended rook on e1, leading to a perpetual. 

 

Karjakin v Topalov

The game between the leader, Sergey Karjakin of Russia, and the tail-ender, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, was the longest of the day. Topalov had his moments, but only a post-mortem will tell if he missed something clear. The players drew in a position in which there was still plenty of play left.

 

Anand v Nakamura

 The game between Viswanathan Anand of India and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States ended in a fairly quick draw. The opening was a Berlin Defense and Anand, who was White, tried 4. d3, but he got no advantage whatsoever. A quick series of exchanges sapped whatever potential tension there might have been in the position. In the end, Anand forced a perpetual check. He is now at 50 percent (2.5 points), while Nakamura has 2. 

 

Svidler v Giri

Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Peter Svidler drew their game by perpetual in 30 moves, marking the third game of the day that ended by repetition and on Move 30. In the opening, Svidler uncorked 7. … a5. It was not clear if it was home preparation as he took a while on it. Whether inspiration at the board or otherwise, it gave him a decent game. There were some interesting moments, but the balance never seemed to be disturbed before the players decided to repeat the position.

The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com

Fourth round Summary - Karjakin wins

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office/Evgeny Pogonin.

Svidler v Aronian

A slightly odd English opening produced a small edge for Peter Svidler of Russia, but Levon Aronian of Armenia found the moves to escape any long-term problems, though he was temporarily down a pawn. In the end, the players agreed to a draw in a rook-and-pawn endgame where no one could make any progress. 

 

Karjakin v Anand

A strange opening by Sergey Karjakin of Russia, who had White against Viswanathan Anand of India. But while Anand struggled to find a concrete plan, Karjakin was able to saddle Anand with hanging pawns on the c and d files. Anand eventually advanced one of them, which was traded off, but that left the other one very weak and with Anand having to play passive defense. Such a position is ideal for Karjakin, whose technical skills are second to none and he slowly ground Anand down. Anand resigned as Karjakin was about to win a pawn and be able to force a trade of all remaining pieces, leaving with an easily won king-and-pawn ending. 

  

Giri v Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Anish Giri of the Netherlands engaged in a theoretical dual in a complicated variation of the Semi-Slav Defense. In the press conference, both players said they had analyzed the line very deeply and though Giri’s king was flushed out into the open, all the moves were correct. So Nakamura forced a draw by perpetual. 

 

Caruana v Topalov

Fabiano Caruana had a great chance against the tail-ender in the tournament, Veselin Topalov, but he let it slip away. The opening was an Italian game and, as is typical of that opening, it led to a game of slow maneuvering. Topalov is typically not happy in that sort of a game and always tries to make something happen, which Caruana may have been counting on. The upshot was that Topalov loaded up on the kingside and neglected the queenside. When he made his break, it did not amount to much, but Caruana’s pieces came streaming in on the opposide wing. He won the d pawn and it seemed that Topalov’s position was about to collapse. But somehow Caruana missed the killing blow. Topalov found enough counterplay and, in a rook-and-pawn endgame, Caruana could not seal the deal. 

 

The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com

Armenia President Serzh Sargsyan opened the 2016 FIDE Candidates Tournament in Moscow

2016 FIDE Candidates Tournament started in Moscow's DI Telegraph, organized by WORLD CHESS by Agon Ltd. Tournament General Partner is Tashir Group. President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan kicked off the Tournament by making the first move on Levon Aronian's board.

The official press-conference was hold before the ceremony, where FIDE's supervisor Zurab Azmaiparashvili, RCF president Andrey Filatov and World Chess by Agon Limited CEO Ilya Merenzon spoke.

FIDE's supervisor Zurab Azmaiparashvili thanked the organizers, having noticed the great organization. He then explained why current #2, Vladimir Kramnik is not among the participants.

«Kramnik is one of the world’s strongest  grandmasters, though his level decreased exactly at the moment the participants were pinned down. Despite it Moscow’s Tournament still has tough competition – eight leading world grandmasters will fight for the win», - FIDE's supervisor Zurab Azmaiparashvili said.

RCF President Andrey Filatov also talked about his expectations from the Tournament.

«I will support the Russian chess players and I hope thatone of them will finally go to New York to play against the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen», - he said.  

CEO WORLD CHESS – Chess Championship cycle organizer – Ilya Merenzon told about the way this important Tournament was organized.

«For the first time in history of such events we are doing the public program.  It will help us to involve the whole city in the chess game, to get everyone acquainted with chess. Moreover we are organizing several events for business elite, which are not only an opportunity to play with each other but to have business conversations» – told Ilya Merenzon.

He added that chess tournaments are starting to catch establishement’s attention. The game is interactive, increasing its presence in the Internet and the mobile apps. Thanks to that average amount of chess fans is up to 1 billion.  

President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, Aide to the President of the Russia Igor Levitin, Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, FIDE President Kirsan Iluymzhinov were the guests of honor at the Opening Ceremony. Russian businessmen – especially General Partner’s, Tashir Group representatives were also among the guests of the ceremony.

«Since its foundation, Tashir Group has devoted significant attention to charitable and sponsored activities along with its business development.

These activities have long included support of sports, which is why participation in the 2016 Chess Candidates Tournament is not just a promotional project, but is driven primarily by a desire to popularize chess in our country and abroad. This is especially true in Armenia, where chess occupies a special place-with Armenia being the first country in the world where chess was included as part of the official school curriculum. All of this leads us here at Tashir Group to be the General Partner of the Tournament», - said Zara Agemian, Head of marketing and corporate communications in Tashir Group. 

After the press-conference finished guests and the media stepped into the game hall, where everything was prepared for the Opening Ceremony. President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, guests and organizers listened to FIDE Anthem, shook hands with each of eight grandmasters and Armenia President himself made the first move at Levon Aronian's board. After that Moscow Candidates Tournament – 2016 was officially opened. 

Third Round Summary

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin

Picture provided by WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin

Aronian beats Topalov to join Karjakin and Anand as co-leaders after the latter two drew their games. Svidler sits just a half point back after drawing Nakamura.

Giri v Karjakin

It was an interesting fight between Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

Anand v Caruana

Viswanathan Anand of India had a small edge against Fabiano Caruana of the United States. 

Topalov v Aronian

A poor outing from Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria who miscalculated badly to lose one, then another pawn to Levon Aronian of Armenia.  

Nakamura v Svidler

The longest game of the day also had the biggest momentum swings. Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, perhaps still smarting from his loss in Round 2, came out aggressively against Peter Svidler of Russia — pushing a pawn rapidly to d7! as well as infiltrating Svidler’s king position with his queen. 

The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com

You can see all the pictures from day 3 in our image gallery.  

Second Round Summary

Photo by: WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

Photo by: WORLD CHESS Press Office; Evgeny Pogonin.

 

Svidler v Topalov

By the admission of the players themselves, sometimes the best moves don’t make the best games for spectators.

Such was the case with the Svidler vs Topalov match, which saw the symmetrical variation in the Berlin – an opening that does not often end in a decisive result.

“My hope was that he would do something more exciting,” said Svidler in the post match press conference. But Topalov, after his bruising defeat to Anand yesterday, was perhaps more concerned about regrouping in round 2 than engaging in another furiously complicated middle-game.

 

Anand v Aronian

No heroics from the Tiger today after Anand settled for half a point against Aronian. But with two games today still to finish, he could retain the lead after two rounds of the Candidates.

A fashionable variation of the queen’s gambit declined saw both players operate within their comfort zones for the first half of the game before material was quickly swapped off. 

Despite black being a pawn down when a draw was agreed, the odd coloured bishops meant a decisive result was always going to be impossible.

Both players seemed fairly happy with the outcome and an early dinner.

 

Giri v Caruana

Fabiano Caruana became the top American player at the Candidates despite only drawing with white against Anish Giri.

With only two wins from the eight games so far played over the two rounds, Caruana’s second draw is hardly a disaster, but he must be disappointed that he couldn’t overcome his Dutch opponent.

Nakamura’s time pressure may have played a part and in the end the game looked drawn long before the end.

 

Karjakin v Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura had a very bad day at the office in round 2 of the Candidates, losing to Sergey Karjakin.

Lacking in accuracy for most of the game, the hotly tipped American sacrificed a knight for a pawn in what turned into an appalling blunder to give up the point to his Russian opponent.

“Basically I did many things wrong today,” Nakamura said in the press conference after the game.”

He didn’t get many people arguing with him.  

 

The full games and PGN files can be found at www.worldchess.com

Day one finishes with the draw

The last Candidates Tournament Game on day one between Levon Aronian and Anish Giri finished with the draw.

On the late press-briefing after the game Giri said moves 28-35 gave him a little advantage over Aronian though he haven’t reach the goal and haven’t won. “I was waiting for just one mistake from Levon to win but I didn’t succeed”- Anish said.

Aronian noticed that he is usually not affected by any external reasons but today he was a bit nervous – especially after Armenia President made the first move. «I wrongly treated Anishe's position in the mittelschpiel and this didn't give me a chance to win» - Levon said.

After the first day Anand leads with 1 point, others have 0,5 points and Veselin Topalov is the last one with no points.

Read more on worldchess.com

First win at the Candidates Tournament

Third Candidates Tournament Game has finished with the clear win by Vishwanathan Anand over Veselin Topalov in the first round.

Anand said on the press-briefing that the game was intense though he is happy about such kind of the Tournament start. 

Topalov admitted his knight's move on C1 was a serious, game-changing mistake.

Read more on worldchess.com

Russian Rivalry at the Tournament is finished

Second Candidates Tournament Game has finished between two Russian grandmasters, Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler. They drew in the first round.

The game between the two Russian representatives, Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler, was quiet. Karjakin took the least ambitious approach in the opening by keeping the pawn symmetrical when he had a chance to capture a piece in the center with a pawn. Karjakin’s decision allowed Svidler to equalize with few problems. After the players maneuvered a while in a fairly dry position, they finally agreed to a draw. 

To read the full story go on worldchess.com

 

First game at the Tournament finished

First Candidates Tournament Game has finished between two American grandmasters, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. They drew in the first round.

The opening was unusual and they mirrored each other for the first four moves. Caruana gave Nakamura a chance to take more spaces. Though Nakamura seemed to have small advantage throughout the game, Caruana was never in real danger and had no trouble.

They did know how to act with each other.

Please see more information on the worldchess.com 

Logo and branding for World Chess Candidates Tournament branding unveiled. It’s psychedelic

Chess targets modern architecture and design approach to reach and involve new global audience  

WORLD CHESS, a registered trademark of Agon Limited, the company that owns the commercial rights for the World Chess Championship, is unveiling a new logo design for the upcoming Candidates tournament in Moscow. The winner of that tournament, which will be held in March in Moscow’s historic Central Telegraph building, will become the challenger for the World Championship match in November in the United States.

Eight of the world’s best players will be competing in the Candidates tournament, which runs from March 11 to 29 and has a prize fund of 420,000 euros. Tashir Group, Russia’s largest diversified industrial holding company, is a general partner of the tournament and the Russian Chess Federation is also a major supporter.  The Tournament will open on March 10 with a VIP gala at Moscow’s Pashkov House. Serzh Sargsyan, the President of Armenia, will be the guest of honor at the event. Beluga Noble Russian Vodka is the program partner.

The new logo for the tournament features the work of Maxim Spivakov, a Moscow-based artist, and was designed by the Russian studio Textandpictures to create a strong visual image for the tournament. The logo shows the evolving link between the idea of chess and human nature, and vice-versa.

Mr. Spivakov previously collaborated with WORLD CHESS for the 2015 World Chess Rapid and Blitz Championships in Berlin, creating another stunning ‘Ouroboros’ image, used as the logo of those events.

The new logo is part of Agon’s efforts to update and modernize the look and feel of a game that is almost 1,500 years old and is a well-established part of world culture.

Chess is a game full of traditions, not unlike religion. And it is deeply embedded into our everyday life. Chess patterns and chess tables and sets are present in almost all apartments or offices. So design of the chess championship is phenomenally important -- it stays in the books forever and will be a collectors’ item immediately after the tournament is over. We are really excited to introduce bold design ideas in the old sport and foster dialog over it, said Ilya Merenzon, CEO of Agon.

Previously, Agon had collaborated with the English design studio Pentagram to create new chess sets that are used in all its events and to redefine visual guidelines for the game.

The DI Telegraph, a multifunctional space in the Central Telegraph building, will be the actual venue for the tournament. The landmark Central Telegraph building, which was built in 1927 and designed by Ivan Rerberg, is the digital hub of Moscow and is home to many of Russia’s high-tech companies. The new logo, which is a bridge between an ancient game and the modern communications companies that make the Central Telegraph their home, will be featured prominently in the breathtaking DI Telegraph space and on all marketing and promotional materials for the tournament.

Merenzon said, “Chess continues its tour of important centers for design. The World Rapid and Blitz Championships were in Berlin in October, the Candidates are coming to Moscow in March, and the World Championship will be in New York or San Francisco in November. In each place, we are thrilled to join forces with leading architects and designers to transform chess tournaments into fashionable and stylish events. This shows that chess is not just a sport for millions of its fans all over the world, it has cultural interest and importance as well”.

There will be a closing and award ceremony for the tournament on March 29.

 

You can download the full press-release text here (PDF)

World Chess Candidates Tournament Official Website is now open

 

The website provides the latest information about the Tournament as well as media accreditation and information for visitors. The website will also serve as a media hub for global media community covering the event by providing official photography, videos and more. The official exclusive broadcast of the Tournament will be hosted by www.worldchess.com.

The Candidates Tournament will take place in Moscows digital hub, the DI Telegraph space in the historic Central Telegraph building from March 11 to 29, 2016. Eight of the worlds top grandmasters will compete for a chance to face the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen later this year. The 420,000 prize fund is also at stake. Tashir Group is the general partner of the Tournament.

The Candidates Tournament will be played over 14 rounds and will feature GMs from six countries: Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler (Russia), Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana (the USA), Viswanathan Anand (India), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Anish Giri (the Netherlands). The Tournament website provides background information on each participant, including their historical ratings and statistics.

The event is organized by Agon Limited, owner of the WORLD CHESS brand as well as the owner of commercial rights to the FIDE Chess Championship cycle.

You can download the full press-release text here (PDF)